Luther Burrell is ready for the big collisions that await in Australia as he targets a starting role as England’s midfield battering ram for the first Test against the Wallabies.
The 104kg Burrell has been chosen ahead of Ollie Devoto to replace the injured Manu Tuilagi in the 32-man squad that heads to Australia on Tuesday following a try-scoring performance in the 27-13 victory over Wales at Twickenham.
The Brisbane opener on Saturday week is now a realistic objective for Burrell, who could be the beneficiary if head coach Eddie Jones drops the underperforming George Ford in favour of moving Owen Farrell from inside centre to five-eighth.
Uncapped rugby league convert Ben Te’o and rookie Henry Slade are the alternatives at 12, giving Burrell hope of making the second appearance of his Test comeback since being controversially omitted from the squad for last autumn’s World Cup.
If Jones opts for the 28-year-old Saint, his primary role will be to use his strength to punch holes in the Wallabies’ defence.
“We know that with the back-row Australia have, we are going to take some big collisions,” Burrell said.
Burrell was omitted from the first squad named by Jones in January on the grounds of being “grossly overweight”, so while England were completing their first Grand Slam since 2003 he began shedding the 8kgs demanded by the Australian.
“The beauty of Eddie is that he’s a very honest bloke. If you’re not pulling your weight then he won’t beat around the bush, he will tell you,” Burrell said.
England land in Australia on Wednesday evening and will spend the following week acclimatising on the Gold Coast before moving to Brisbane for the first Test against the beaten World Cup finalists.